On Tuesday, August 2, 2022, Fasman Yeshiva High School presented its fourth exclusive outdoor premiere movie screening of “Names, Not Numbers©: A Movie in the Making,” a Holocaust Memorial Film. The “Names, Not Numbers©” program converts traditional history lessons into an inter-generational, interactive project that brings to life a first-hand account of each survivor’s story and preserves each of those stories through the production of a student-produced documentary film. This year's premiere screening drew over 650 guests, joined together in the parking lot of Westfield Old Orchard. Guests included Yeshiva students, faculty, parents, featured survivors, and other community members.
The “Names, Not Numbers©” program is run by founder Tova Fish-Rosenberg. Her program exposes students to first-hand experience with the filmmaking process, and under the direction of skilled advisors and professionals, prepares them for the interviews, and the necessary steps required for producing a meaningful documentary. During the school year, juniors and seniors worked with various professionals, including Holocaust experts, respected journalists, and a filmmaker on the production of “Names, Not Numbers©: A Movie in the Making,” sometimes even traveling beyond the bounds of Illinois to interview survivors. “Every moment that our seniors experience in this Holocaust documentary process is meaningful,” said FYHS principal Rabbi Dovid Kupchik in his opening remarks. “The students get the privilege to speak with them, to learn from them, and to tell their story.”
The film told the personal stories of those Holocaust Survivors, touching on the individual’s life before the war, as well as their experiences during and immediately following the Holocaust. The film featured the stories of seven Holocaust survivors who each participated in on-camera interviews, and the resulting impact upon the students after hearing the survivors describe their experiences and trials during this darkest period of history. The featured survivors included Harold Katz A”H, Tarn, Czechoslovakia; Arkady Khanuk A”H, Brailov, Ukraine; Elizabeth Malina, Turja Paseka, Czechoslovakia; Ralph Rehbock, Gotha, Germany; Eva London Ritt, Hamburg, Germany; John Traurig, Kosice, Slovakia; and Michael Weiss, Kaszony, Czechoslovakia. We would like to remember the two survivors who passed away this year shortly after their interviews, Mr. Harold Katz, A”H and Mr. Arkady Khanuk, A”H. We thank our survivors for sharing their personal stories of survival with our students, particularly for their time and effort in transmitting their testimony for us and for future generations to come.
We are grateful to Alison Slovin and the Simon Wiesenthal Center for working with, and encouraging, Fasman Yeshiva students in the Names, Not Numbers Project. Additionally, FYHS had the privilege of seeing the Mobile Museum of Tolerance, Simon Wiesenthal Center’s new educational initiative, which was brought to the Yeshiva campus. We would also like to thank The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center for their support and help with Names Not Numbers. Fasman Yeshiva students toured the museum with museum docents and listened to survivor Sam Harris answer questions through his hologram presentation. Partnering with these wonderful institutions has been foundational in bringing the lessons and legacy of the Holocaust to our students. It has given us the chance to expand our school project to the broader Jewish community.
Special thank you to all of our corporate and individual sponsors for supporting this important project. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to organize this evening, and, of course, we share our heartfelt appreciation to the survivors who participated in this project. We are grateful that our Yeshiva students have this special opportunity to be a part of this one-of-a-kind, life changing experience and an important link in the chain of connecting with the survivors and documenting their stories for future generations. A big thank you to Avigail Schechter, Raphaela Stern, and Roz Sugarman for all their hard work in making tonight a success. The documentary will be archived in The National Library of Israel in Jerusalem, The Mendel Gottesman Library of Yeshiva University, and Yad Vashem. This year’s film will be available for viewing starting on Tisha Baav at www.fyhs.co.